We are delighted to announce our upcoming exhibition of new paintings by eminent artist, Krishen Khanna (b. 1925). The exhibition titled, 'Krishen Khanna: Paintings from my sitting room', will be available to view at the gallery from Wednesday, 4 August – Friday, 13 August, 2021. We will be holding an opening reception on Wednesday, 4 August, from 6 – 8 pm.
The exhibition will focus on the new paintings from Khanna's famous 'Bandwalla' series, which originally captured his attention in the late 1970s. These smaller paintings, all done between 2020 - 2021 are a result of Khanna's shift from his large studio in the basement to a makeshift studio in his living room. The shift in studio space, which was prompted by the events of last year and lockdown, has meant that Khanna is now surrounded by photographs of family and paintings by all his friends including Husain, Tyeb and Gaitonde who are amongst him and their memories keep him happy while he paints.
“The sitting room is hardly a sitting room per se; my wife Renu reads a lot so has all her books around. It is part library and part studio with furniture that has to be moved from time to time. It is a completely new experience moving away from my usual studio in the basement. I have to look for paints on the ground which are all mixed up and improvise but it’s all a part of the game in the end.”
The effects of the restrictions on weddings in India can be seen in the canvases; where there would normally be an entire band playing, we see solo bandwallas practising for better days ahead. The sparse backgrounds depict emptiness while the bandwallas continue marching through empty streets looking for their next job.
“In this current atmosphere, one can become very depressed, but fortunately for me there are the Bandwallas who are still making noise. When I’m painting them, I have to concentrate fully on them. The Bandwallas take prime position in my life right now.”
Krishen Khanna, 2021
Note on the Artist:
Born in Faislabad in Pakistan, Krishen Khanna grew up in Lahore, only studying art after he graduated from college at evening classes held at the Mayo School of Art there. In 1947, Khanna's family moved to Shimla as a result of the Partition of India and Pakistan, and Khanna was deeply affected by not only the change in his personal life, but also the socio-political chaos that reigned around him.
Most of Khanna's work is figurative; he chose to not explore the abstraction that most of his contemporaries were delving into. "I used to do abstracts earlier and I have now moved on to human forms. I thought that the person or the individual is being neglected - the person in a particular situation who is influenced by the conditions around. I want to now emphasise the human beings caught up in their particular condition."
Recognizing his immense contribution to Indian Art, the Government of India has bestowed several honours upon him including the Lalit Kala Ratna from the President of India in 2004 and the Padma Shri in 1990 and the Padma Bhushan in 2011. In 1964, Khanna was artist-in-residence at the American University, Washington D.C., and the next year, he won a fellowship from the Council for Economic and Cultural Affairs, New York following the travel grant they had awarded him in 1962. Krishen Khanna lives and works in Gurgaon, India.